College ball is officially behind Sonny Gray.
The former Vanderbilt right-hander signed with the Oakland A’s on Monday, nearly two months after being taken 18th overall in the first round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Gray and the A’s agreed to a $1.54 million signing bonus, which is slightly higher than the recommended $1.42 million for that spot in the first round.
“This is a day you look forward to,” Gray told MLB.com. “You look forward to Draft day and you look forward to signing. Thankfully we got a deal done and I’m happy to be here.”
Gray, who would have been a senior at Vanderbilt in the fall, spent Monday hanging around the A’s locker room and visited with the team during batting practice. He was scheduled to fly to Arizona on Tuesday to join the A’s Rookie League affiliate. He won’t be there long, though, as the franchise plans to move him up to Double-A Midland (Texas) so that he can spend the rest of the season there. A move to Double-A most likely will happen by the beginning of August.
“One of his best attributes is his makeup,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “He is a tough kid who loves to compete. That doesn’t show up in the stat sheets. The stats were good but I think what was recognized was what type of competitor he is.”
Gray, a Smyrna native, finished his three-year career at Vanderbilt with 27 wins, which ranks second all-time in school history. He also threw 317 strikeouts, which is the fourth-most at Vanderbilt.
The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder spent the last two seasons as the Commodores’ ace, assuming the duties of Friday night starter. The All-American struck out 124 batters in 119 innings last season and finished with a 12-4 record and 2.43 ERA. He also pitched twice in Vanderbilt’s first College World Series appearance in Omaha, Neb., in June.
Gray joins Curt Casali (Detroit), Taylor Hill (Washington), Mark Lamm (Atlanta), Aaron Westlake (Detroit) and Bryan Johns, who signed with Boston as a non-drafted free agent, as Commodores who signed professional contracts this summer.